"WR6_gUnUj-ztiW07KQcOCnTel9A"/> Notes From Atlanta: February 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

25 Black American English Expressions You Should Know (II)

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.


15. “Show me your guns.” “Guns” is an American English slang term for upper-arm muscles or biceps, so “show me your guns” means “flex your muscles.” It isn’t a uniquely Black English expression, but it’s popular among African Americans.

16. “Open a can of whoop ass.” This expression is used humorously to say you will give somebody a good beating, as in “I’ll open a can of whoop ass on you!” Like the previous expression, it isn’t exclusively Black American, but it’s very popular among speakers of Black American Vernacular English. Other written variations of the expression are “open a can of whup ass” and “open a can of whoop-ass.” “Whoop” is the alternative spelling of “whip” (i.e., to beat severely with a whip or rod) in informal American English.

17. “Oowee!” This is a uniquely Black American English exclamatory expression. It is used in moments of intense and excitatory passions. It’s similar in many respects to the Nigerian Pidgin English exclamation “chei!”


 I became aware of the expression in Louisiana years ago when a respectable African-American actor almost yelled it on national television in a moment of unguarded excitation. My friend, who is African-American, told me the actor quickly suppressed the exclamation because mainstream America disdains it as ghetto grunt, ghetto being the economically depressed parts of cities where poor black people live. So he said it out loud for me. He claimed that every African American, irrespective of education and social status, says “oowee!” on their home grounds. That’s clearly an exaggeration.

18. “Shawty ” or “Shorty.” The word originally meant young man, as in “Sup, shawty!” [What’s up, man!] Over the years, however, rap musicians have changed the word’s meaning to a young sexy woman. The Urban Dictionary, a user-generated online dictionary, says the word started life in Atlanta’s Black community as a slang term for a short person before morphing into a term of endearment for just about anybody. Now, hip-hop music has appropriated it as a term for an attractive young lady.

 The etymology of “shawty” reminds me of the semantic evolution of the word “girl.” When the word first appeared in the English language, it used to mean a young person of any gender. Now it means a young woman.

19. “Where you ats?” It means “where are you now?” I should quickly point out that this expression isn’t common among older African Americans, many of whom actually find it unbearably irritating. A similar expression that cuts across the generational divide in the Black community is “who dat is?” which stands for “who is that?” Note that I am referring to informal Black vernacular English. Upper middle-class, “bourgie” blacks don’t speak like that—unless they want to identify with black masses.

20. “What’s good?” It’s an alternative expression for “what’s up?” “How are you?” “What’s new?” “What’s happening?” etc.

21. “God don’t like ugly.” This old African-American colloquialism is the non-standard form of “God doesn’t like injustice.” It is often said when a bad, morally depraved or ungrateful person gets poetic justice; when they, as it were, get their just deserts. If, for instance, someone takes advantage of other people’s generosity and help to climb to the high end of the social scale and turns around to betray the people who helped him or refuses to pay the favor forward, but ends up crashing after what seemed like a perfect life, African Americans would say: “God don’t like ugly!” It’s an exclusively Black American homespun witticism that has endured several generations.

22. “Who dat?” It means “who is that?” Black American English, in common with West African Pidgin English, usually either dispenses with the verb to be (such as in the expression “who dat?” instead of “who is that?”) or leaves it unconjugated (such as in the sentence “she be nice” instead of “she is nice”).   

But the phrase “who dat” has a cultural significance in America that goes beyond its semantic properties. It is popularly associated with the New Orleans Saints, an American football team located in the southern US state of Louisiana. During games, fans of the team always chant: "Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?" [Who is that? Who is that? Who is it that says they will beat the Saints?] 

As the reader can see, there are interesting echoes of West African Pidgin English in the syntactic structure of this quintessentially Black American English mantra. As I promised in a previous article, I will someday compare Black American Vernacular English with West African Pidgin English based on my familiarity with both languages.

23. “Black don’t crack.” It literally means “black doesn’t crack,” but it’s used in Black English to mean that the black skin is ageless, that black people don’t look their age, especially when they’re compared with members of other races. I heard the expression for the first time when I lived in Louisiana. A white American classmate of mine thought he and I were either age mates or that he was older than I was by a few years because of my youngish looks. When he discovered that I was 7 years older than he was, he exclaimed, “Damn, it’s really true that black don’t crack!” I had no clue what in the world he meant, more so that the expression sounded ungrammatical to me. It was through my white friend that I learned that “black don’t crack” is an African-American expression to indicate that the black skin doesn’t crack, that is, doesn't wrinkle. I immediately noticed that “black” and “crack” rhyme.

24. “Skin folk.” This is a Black English expression for members of one’s race. It’s modeled on the Standard English expression “kinfolk,” which means members of one’s nuclear and extended family. The phrase was popularized by Zora Neale Hurston, an African-American folklorist and author who once famously said “All my skinfolk ain't kinfolk.” It is a witty and creative way to say “not all people who share the same racial identity as me are my family.” In other words, there is more to friendship and affinity than mere racial similarity. African-Americans say this when they are betrayed by fellow blacks.

25. “True that.” It means “that is true.”

Concluded 
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Politics of Grammar Column  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Africans and America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.


In continuance of my Black History Month articles, I have decided to focus on America’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), as universities that were established between the 1800s and the early 1960s exclusively to educate American blacks are called. 

I am always amazed by how little most Africans know about America’s historically black colleges and universities. A few months ago, I met a Nigerian whose experience with HBCUs typifies the experiences of most Africans I’ve met regarding HBCUs. He told me the excitement he felt about pursuing his undergraduate education in America evaporated when he got here and discovered that the school he was admitted to had an almost all-black student population.

“Why in the world should I leave the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and come to America to attend another university that is no different from it?” he told me. “I didn’t know there were universities in America that have only black students and lecturers.”

Sunday, February 16, 2014

25 Black American English Expressions You Should Know (I)

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.


In the spirit of America’s Black History Month, which is observed every February, I have decided to share with my readers African-American English expressions that I’ve learned in the course of my stay in America. While many of the expressions are southernisms (i.e., the distinctive English usage of southern United States irrespective of race), several are unique to American blacks irrespective of the region of the United States they may be. Of course, for historical reasons, there are more blacks in southern United States than anywhere else in the country. That is why “Black English” and “Southern English” are often alike.


Somehow, most African-Americans that I have met here don’t immediately realize that I am African until my accent betrays me. So some of them speak to me in Ebonics (as African-American Vernacular English is now called), which used to throw me off. Over the years, however, I have come to understand many of these phrases. I thought it would help relations between Africans on the continent and American blacks if I highlight some of these phrases.

1. “Finnin to.” This expression is used to state a desire to do something, as in “I’m finnin to slap him,” “He’s finnin to eat some food,” etc. The expression is a corruption of “I’m fixing to,” which is a Southern United States expression that means exactly the same thing as “finnin to.” I became familiar with “finnin to” when the sound bite of a rural, uneducated Mississippi black man by the name of Erick Hubbard went viral in April 2011. He was complaining about a devastating tornado that took away his burger. “I was finnin to eat my hamburger, it took it!” he said. I didn’t think he was speaking English until someone broke it down for me. (You can watch the video below).

2. “Bourgie (pronounced boo-zhee). It is a corruption of the Marxist term “bourgeoisie.” American blacks use the word to describe someone who has pretentious airs and taste, who is fake. It is also used to describe black people whose politeness, cultivated manners, and courtesy are considered contrived, excessive, not natural. “She bourgie” is a common putdown for girls that are considered pretentious. 

3. “Uncle Tom.” This old expression for a servile black man who is excessively deferential to white people is still active in the idiolect of African Americans. The expression was particularly popular in the 1960s thanks largely to Malcolm X’s constant demeaning references to Civil Rights leaders as Uncle Toms.

4. “Dip.” It means to leave suddenly, as in “I gotta dip.” 

5. “Ma Boo.” It means “my boyfriend” or “my girlfriend” in Black English. It’s a corruption of the French word beau (pronounced “bow”), which means boyfriend. 

6. “Booty” (pronounced something like boo-di). It is a Black American English word for a woman’s buttocks. The word’s Standard English meaning is, of course, loot or money/goods obtained illegally. When a woman is described as having “lotta booty,” (that is, “a lot of booty”) don’t for a moment think she has lots of loot to share with you.

7. “Bootylicious.” A woman with a lot of “booty” is called “bootylicious.” It’s a blend of “booty” and “delicious.” The word was popularized, but by no means invented, by Destiny’s Child (the music group that Beyoncé was a part of). One of the songs in the group’s 2001 album is titled “bootylicious.” The Oxford English Dictionary recognized “bootylicious” as a legitimate English word three years after its appearance in Destiny’s Child album. It defines it as: "(of a woman) sexually attractive."

8. “Big ol’.” It’s the shortening of “big old,” but it often sounds like “big-o.” It’s an adjectival phrase often used to modify just about any noun: “he is a big ol’ idiot,” “that’s a big ol’ car,” “my big ol’ dad,” etc.  The nouns the phrase modifies may be neither big nor old. As I think about it, it seems to me that the phrase should more correctly be described as an intensifier, which is defined as a word or phrase that has no meaning except to heighten or deepen the meaning of the word or phrase it modifies. I should add that “big ol’” isn’t an exclusively African-American expression; it’s a southern American English expression, which now enjoys currency in other parts of the United States.

9. “Baad/baddest.” In Black American English, “bad,” or, more correctly, “baad,” isn’t the opposite of “good; it is, on the contrary, the superabundance of good. You should feel flattered, not offended, when a Black American says to you: “men, you baad.” It means “you’re really good.” The comparative and superlative forms of “bad” aren’t “worse” and “worst,” as they are in Standard English; they are “badder” and “baddest.” The “baddest guy” in town isn’t the worst guy in town; he is the coolest, most fashionable, and most socially adept guy in town. “Badass” also means “brilliant; very good.”

10. “My bad.” This phrase is used to offer apologies for a wrongdoing. If someone hits a person in error, for instance, they would say something like: “Oops, my bad.” It means: “I apologize; it was my mistake. Forgive me.” Many etymologists say the phrase was initially restricted to Black American basketball players in the 1970s and the 1980s, but it’s now part of general informal American English.

11. “Dry begging.” In Black American English, this phrase means asking for something in a vague, circuitous way. For instance, instead of saying “I’m hungry. Could you kindly share that your food with me?” a dry beggar would say something like: “That food looks really good. I haven’t eaten all day.” We call this “fine bara” in Nigerian Pidgin English. (Bara is the Hausa word for begging.)

12. “Finger-lickin’ good.” The phrase is used of food to mean it’s so good you would lick it with your fingers. It is actually not a uniquely Black American English expression; it was popularized by Kentucky Fried Chicken, an American fast-food chain, whose motto, until 2011, was “finger-lickin’ good.” I’ve included it in the list because I’ve heard the phrase mostly among African Americans here.

13. “We straight.” In Black American English, “straight” can mean “all right.” So “we straight” [we’re straight] means “That’s OK. No worries. We are all right.” President Barack Obama brought this expression to national limelight in 2009 when he visited a black-owned restaurant in Washington, DC called Ben’s Chili Bowl. After paying for his meal, a cashier, who is black, asked him if he wanted his change back. “Nah, we straight,” Obama said. If the cashier were white, Obama would probably have said something like: “No, it’s OK. You can keep it.”

14.Put your foot in it.” In Black American English, this phrase is used to compliment excellent cooking. It means a meal is remarkably cooked. My first encounter with the phrase some years back wasn’t pretty. I complimented the cooking of an African-American friend of mine. In response to my compliment, she said, “yeah, I put my foot in it.” I immediately became nauseous. I was about to throw up when she told me it was just an expression. I thought she meant she literally put her foot in the food. I didn’t realize it was a self-praise of her culinary exploits. 

It should be noted that the phrase has a completely different meaning in (old-fashioned) British English. It means to embarrass oneself by acceding to an agreement that places one in danger or at a disadvantage.

To be concluded next week

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Silent Tension between Arab Americans and Black Americans

I apologize that I have to pause my comparison of American and Nigerian university teachers. Because this is February, which America celebrates as the “Black History Month,” I have decided to continue with my tradition of using the month to discuss issues about black America.


This week I’ve chosen to highlight a barely discussed but potentially explosive issue: anti-black racism in Arab America. The issue was brought to the fore late last year by a certain Imam Dawud Walid, who is the Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In an article titled “Fellow humans are not ‘abeed’” (which is republished here) Walid called attention to the fact that many Arab Americans call black Americans “abeed,” the Arabic word for “slaves.” 

“Calling a black person an ‘abed’ (abeed in plural) is offensive,” he wrote.  “The term has been used for so long in certain segments of the Arab World that many people have become desensitized to its meaning.  I know that all people do not use the term with overtly malicious intent; however, the word is disturbing, nonetheless.”
 
Dawud Walid
The reaction to his article (read it below) by young Arab Americans on Twitter was even more disturbing. The writer was cursed by some, called an “abed” by others (because he is a Black American Muslim), and Arab Americans who supported his advocacy for the boycott of the term were called “abeed lovers”—borrowing a leaf from white supremacists who call liberal, anti-racist white people “nigger lovers.”

Well, it certainly isn’t news that the name for black people in the Arab world is “abeed” and that black people are at the bottom of the totem pole there—as they are everywhere, including America. What is surprising, for me at least, is that Arabs born in racially sensitive America, who are beneficiaries of the gains of the civil rights struggles of black Americans, would choose to use an unabashedly derogatory racial slur to refer to their compatriots—and feel no qualms about it. 

 This is particularly troubling because (Christian) black America is, from my observation, very tolerant of Islam—for the most part. As I wrote in my August 6, 2011 column titled “Islamophilia in Christian Black America,”  “although black Americans are some of the most devout Christians you can find anywhere in the world, they are also arguably the most tolerant people toward Muslims and Islam.”

In the article, I suggested that part of the reasons Christian black America is tolerant, even accepting, of Muslims is that “American blacks have been victims of institutional exclusion and oppression for several centuries. So they know what it feels to be unfairly stereotyped and demonized on account of the misdeeds of a few people who happen to share similar primordial traits with you.”

 Interestingly, the templates, and even vocabularies, that Arab Americans now deploy to fight for greater inclusion in the American society are borrowed directly from the civil rights struggles of American blacks.

Read Dawud’s articles to get a sense of the contempt that some Arab Americans have for American blacks.
Fellow humans are not "abeed"
By Dawud Walid 

I was prompted to write this after a recent Facebook discussion, which I weighed in on, when the term “abeed” (slaves) was used in a thread, in reference to a news story about an African American woman, who flashed an Arab American businessman in Detroit, during a verbal dispute. What was disturbing about the initial thread, before further discussion, was not simply the racist comments that were used about the unruly woman, but that some showed a profound lack of empathy when I mentioned that the term “abeed” is a hurtful word.

Calling a black person an “abed” (abeed in plural) is offensive.  The term has been used for so long in certain segments of the Arab World that many people have become desensitized to its meaning.  I know that all people do not use the term with overtly malicious intent; however, the word is disturbing, nonetheless.

“Abed” is a term that, at one time, had a general meaning of slave, then became a specific term, referring to blacks, who were viewed as subservient.  For instance, “mamluk,” another term that is used for an enslaved person, came to specifically refer to a non-black slave, such as a Turk.  Hence, “abeed” became nomenclature, which strictly referred to people with darker skin, as it is continued to be used today.

It is disingenuous to say that it is a good word, because excellent worshippers of God are “abeed.”  When people use that term, it is not because they are saying that black people are the best worshippers, nor do they call lighter skin persons, or their own pious family members, “abeed.”  The term has ugly roots and is derogatory; therefore, its usage should cease, instead of explaining it off to the offended and telling them not to be so sensitive, because it’s a compliment.  

What was positive about the Facebook discussion though was that many young Arab Americans pushed back against those who used the term, pointing out that it should not be dismissed as non-offensive.  I know Arab American activists throughout the country that promote solidarity between African Americans and Arab Americans.  Moreover, some of them have directly challenged the usage of the term “abeed.”  Likewise, I know of numerous African American leaders, who have spoken out against anti-Arab bigotry among other black people and confronted bigots, like Terry Jones.  

So, the next time you hear someone using the terms “abed,” or “abeed,” politely recap the points made above.  If we want people to be sensitive to us, we must be sensitive to others.  Fellow humans are not "abeed."  




What follows is Iman Dawud Walid’s sequel to the article he wrote pointing out the invidiousness of using a pejorative racial slur (“abeed”) as the name for all black people. He analyzes the responses the article generated from young Arab Americans on Twitter. 


Walid, who is African American, is the Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. CAIR is one of America’s most prominent Muslim civil liberties organizations.

Responses to my calling out the term ‘abeed’
Two months ago, I wrote an oped titled “Fellow humans are not abeed” for the Arab American News to address the usage of the term abeed, meaning slaves, used by many Arabs to describe black people.  After receiving some positive feedback from some of my Arab-American friends, primarily in Metro Detroit, I decided to search Twitter for the usage of this term in varying transliterations (abeed, 3abeed, 3beed, 3bid, 3abid & 3abed).  What I found was very casual usage of the term, almost exclusively from teenagers and young adults, who are Arab-Americans and appear to have been raised in the USA.

I decided at this point to not comment directly to those tweeps, but to merely tweet my article at them with the hopes that they read it and stop calling black people slaves.  What I’ve experienced from doing this as well as later engaging some of these tweeps in the past two months continue to be four things.

The first is that some simply have­­­­­­­­­­ not responded to the article when I sent it to them.  Some continue to tweet in which I have not seen them tweet abeed again.  Others have continued to use the slur.
The second response is that some have actually apologized for using the term.  Of those, some of them also said that they didn’t know abeed meant slaves.  They said that their families simple refer to all blacks as abeed.  This is a deeper structural issue of racism among Arabs, primarily in the Levant, which I plan on writing about later.

The third response is that of defending the usage of the term abeed that we are all abeedullah (slaves of Allah), and that I should stop being so touchy.  Of course, this is insincere because they don’t really view blacks as the best worshippers, nor do they call other Arabs with light skin including their own family abeed.  Calling anyone slave is haram (forbidden) anyway according to the Qur’an and Sunnah.

The last of the responses has been horrendous, which involve cussing me out to calling me a slave.

Some Arab-Americans who joined me in calling out the usage of abeed themselves have even been attacked.  One tactic of shame used is calling someone “abeed lover” like how white supremacists say “nigger lover.”

An Arab American colleague of mine is in the planning stages of starting a national campaign to address not just this nomenclature issue, but the broader issue of anti-black racism among Arabs.  Keep in mind that there are Arabs who have dark skin that would be considered black in the USA if looked upon strictly by physical characteristics.

In the interim, an Arab American friend of mine in Michigan has started the twitter account Arab AntiBlack Racism to call out anti-black racism among Arabs and to challenge fellow Arabs on Twitter not to be passive observers when seeing slurs hurled against blacks.

This issue is a race of the tortoise not the hare.  There are deep roots of tribalism and colorism in the Arab world, which pre-date colonialism, were encouraged during colonialism and further solidified within many Arab Americans based upon America’s racial hierarchy.

I also keenly realize that if Muslims sincerely strive to effectively challenge Islamopobia, there needs to be a simultaneous effort to combat ethnic bigotry among Muslims.  The Creator helps those who have spiritual integrity and authenticity.  It’s not authentic to talk about Islamophobia and Arabophobia while being silent on its cancer-like manifestations among Muslims and Arabs.  Also, this is not simply Arab on black racism that Muslims need to face.  There is Somali on “Bantu” racism, black on white bigotry among some in Islamic centers, colorism between Pakistanis and Bengalis, etc.

Given, however, that the most overt discrimination that I see on Twitter is Arab on black racism and my personal interests as a black man, who has felt my share of anti-black racism in the heart of Arab America, Metro Detroit, I’m obliged to deal with this most entrenched form that I see.  This is in no way an indictment on all Arab Americans.  I do know, however, that this issue has been dealt with too passively for many years.  Problems don’t fix themselves on their own as proof of the racism exhibited by those born and raised in the USA. I hope that my challenging it will push more Arab Americans to take more aggressive stands against anti-black racism.

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Q and A on Latin Plurals, Media English, and Nigerian English

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.


In this week’s Q and A, you will find answers to questions on problematic plural forms of Latin nouns that have been “imported” into English. I have also answered other usage and grammar questions. Enjoy.

Question:
Your answer to the question about “media” being the plural of “medium” and “agenda” being the plural of the now outdated “agendum” was very enlightening. It got me thinking about how many plurals and singular nouns we mess up every day. Can you highlight other plurals and singulars we often mess up?

Answer:
There are several, but I will mention only the most prominent. First, it’d help to make it clear that you are talking about Latin singular and plural nouns. As you will see in the examples below, while the plural forms of some Latin nouns have been anglicized, others retain their original forms, and grammarians don’t always agree on when it’s acceptable to anglicize the plural forms of Latin nouns.

Take the word “syllabus,” for example. Some people anglicize its plural form to “syllabuses.” But some pedants insist that the word’s original Latin plural (i.e., syllabi) is the only acceptable plural form. I’d say both plurals are acceptable. My sense, though, is that many US universities prefer “syllabi” to “syllabuses.”


Your question is: what other Latin singular and plural nouns do people habitually mix up? Well, “criteria” is one of them. It’s the plural of “criterion,” but it’s usual for people to use it as if it's a singular noun. They say something like: “the only criteria to succeed in life IS hard work.” Semantic purists would insist that the sentence should be rephrased either to “the only criterion to succeed in life is hard work” or “the criteria to succeed in life ARE hard work and luck” since “criterion” is the singular form of “criteria.” “Criterias” is universally condemned as illiterate.

Another problematic Latin noun is “forum.” While some people insist that its plural must be “fora” (its original Latin plural), others anglicize its plural to “forums.” My own preference is “forums.” “Fora” sounds dated, pedantic, and pretentious. It turns out, too, that the Oxford English Dictionary prefers “forums” to “fora.” Microsoft Word, following OED’s lead, does not recognize “fora” as an English word.

The battle over “data” has been rested now. It used to be argued that “data” was the plural of “datum” (which it is in Latin), and that one couldn’t use “data” as a singular noun. So it was considered bad grammar to say “the data IS convincing.” Grammarians of old insisted that the sentence should either be reworded to “the data ARE convincing” or “the datum IS convincing.” But modern English usage in both the United States and the UK has abandoned “datum,” and it’s now perfectly permissible to use “data” as a singular noun. Many people use the phrase “sets of data” to form the plural of “data.”

In the Q and A you referred to, I talked about “agenda” being the plural of “agendum” in Latin. What I didn’t remember to mention is that “agendas” is now considered an acceptable plural of agenda, which is a plural noun in Latin. I also didn’t mention that although “medium” is the singular form of “media” in Latin (and in English), “mediums” can be used as a plural form, especially when reference is made to spiritualists who claim to be able to serve as intercessors between the dead and the living.

I know this all sounds confusing and arbitrary. I will dedicate an entire column on Latin singulars and plurals in the coming weeks.

Question:
I stumbled upon some of your Q & A on correct grammar usage recently and I was highly delighted. Please, I have many questions but I'll ask only two now. 1. Is it correct to say quiz competition or just quiz? 2. Which of these expressions is correct: “the vehicle is full” or “the vehicle is filled”?  

Answer:
Just “quiz” would do. If a quiz is, as the Oxford Dictionary of English defines it, “a test of knowledge, especially as a competition between individuals or teams as a form of entertainment,” then the addition of “competition” to “quiz” is unnecessary, although I won’t say it’s grammatically wrong since “quiz” sometimes functions as a modifier. When I searched “quiz competition” on the British National Corpus, the definitive record of contemporary written and spoken British English, I found only six matches. I discovered that the phrase is particularly popular in former British colonies and the Philippines. The usual phrase that modern British English speakers use is “quiz show.” Note, however, that in American English quiz isn’t generally understood as a competition for entertainment. It’s understood as a short, informal exam.

2. "The vehicle is full" is more grammatical than the "the vehicle is filled." When "filled" is used as an adjective, such as in your example, it's often followed by the preposition "with." So if you want to use "filled" in your example, it would be better to recast the sentence as: "the vehicle is filled with people."

Question:
A couple of days back, I read a feature article in the Washington Post titled “Bringing Home Dad.” A son was pleading for the release of his father that was taken hostage somewhere in Iran. I'm a bit confused about that title. I thought in our English usage, the title would have been written: “Bringing Dad Home.” What’s your take on that?

Answer:
You're right that it's an awkward and unusual construction. I can tell you that it's unusual even to native-speaker ears, although it's not grammatically wrong. I asked many of my American friends, who are grammar nerds, if “bring home dad” makes sense to them. They all said it’s an ungainly phraseology. My own guess is that the headline writer was being stylistically experimental based on idiomatic expressions like "bringing home the bacon," which means to provide food for the family. Or, perhaps, he was trying to capture child-speak.

Question:
Is there a word like sendforth?

Answer:
I have written about this in two previous articles. Since many people have asked me this same question the in the past few weeks, I thought I should reproduce my response. “Sendforth” is a uniquely Nigerian English expression that is often used in place of the Standard English “send-off,” that is, an organized expression of goodwill for people who are about to leave us for a new place or for a new venture. This expression, which seems to have originated as a coinage by Nigerian born-again Christians, would certainly make no sense to many Americans and Britons. Its equivalent in standard British and American English is, as I said earlier, “send-off” (note that it is NOT “send-off party” as some Nigerians are wont to say because “send-off” is a noun, not an adjective) or “farewell celebration” or, rarely, “bon voyage.” Americans also call it a “leaving party.”

I guess Nigerians coined the expression “send-forth party” because “send-off” seems   distant, even hostile. The adverb “forth” appears to Nigerians to convey a connotation of forward motion, of advancement, while “off” strikes them as suggesting departure with no expectation of return. So Nigerians think that to say they “send people off” suggests that they derive perverse pleasure in people’s departure from them But linguists would call this reasoning naïve, if not downright ignorant, because the standard definition of an idiom—which is what this phrase is— is that it is an expression whose meaning cannot be guessed from the meanings of the individual words that constitute it.

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